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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 26, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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pathway to citizenship, dead on arrival? and scheduling conflicts. more questions are being raise ed about melania trump's travels after she skipped a trip with her husband and flew to florida. we'll tell you what her office is saying tonight as mrs. trump's plane is on the move right now. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this has cnn breaking news. breaking tonight. stern new warnings for president trump about the danger of the firing of robert mueller. we're learning that's what he tried to do last june. demanding that he let the russia probe play out or face grave consequences. i'll talk with a democratic
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congressman and -- who knows what it's like to be b fired by the president. our analysts are standing by. first, to jessica schneider. this is raising even more questions about possible obstruction of justice. >> yeah, that's right, wolf. the president's push to fire the special counsel, it only adds to the list of actions and comments from the president that mueller's team maybe evaluating art as part of that portion of the probe and tonight, new details about the tension inside the white house over the summer when the white house counsel forcibly pushed back on the president's call the to remove mueller. after months of denying the president was considering firing special counsel robert mueller -- >> are you considering firing robert mule snellemueller? >> tonight, they're refusing to comment on reporting the president tried toot just that. cnn learned president trump -- to fire mueller last june. but he balked and threatened to
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resign if the president went forward, a source tells cnn. in statement, trump's attorney would only say we decline to comment out of respect for the office of the special counsel and its process. trump has disparaged the inquiry in the election. but the stunning revelation that trump tried to oust the man leading the probe is perhaps one more point in pattern of behavior some say could be considered obstruction of justice. the criminal act of interfering with a law enforcement investigation. in addition to trying to fire mueller, the president asked former fbi director, james comey, for his loyalty in january, then in february, trump asked comey to drop any investigation into michael flynn. he fired comey officially in may. saying it was because of the fbi director's handling of the clints e-mail investigation, but later told nbc's lester holt something different. >> when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, you know, this
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russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. it's an excuse. >> the president also pressures attorney general jeff sessions not to recuse himself from the russia probe which sessions did in march and he asked national intelligence, nia and csa to push back on connections between the trump campaign and russians. sessions was also pressured to fire andrew mccabe and "the new york times" reports he considered dismissing rod ros rosenstein, who has been overseeing the investigation since the sessions recusal. >> in this case, you can end all of the activities together. then you can take the attempted fire and use that as a window into president's intentions and from that, build an obstruction case. >> since the president's reported push to fire mueller in june, he has repeatedly denied mueller's firing was ever a
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consideration. >> no, i'm not. no. what else? >> i haven't given it any thought. i've been reading about it from you people. you say i'm going to dismiss them. i'm not dismissing anybody. imt them to get on the with tasks and i want the senate and house to come out with their finldingdings. >> as they prepare to meet with trump, it could be the president's perception that first takes a hit. >> the president said repeatedly that he was not intending to fire mueller, where as this story seems to say not only was he intended to, but he attempted to. and so that puts him in a very difficult position in terms of people believing him. his crede bability was greatly damaged by this. >> since june when the presidential reportedly called for the firing of the special counsel, his team has denied on nine separate occasions that mueller's job was ever in
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danger. wolf. >> very important. thanks for that report. now to capitol hill and reaction we're getting in from lawmakers of both parties who have repeatedly warned that the firing of robert mueller would cross a clear red line. let's go to manu. what are you hearing up there? >> the top republican on the senate ju didiciary committee e told me he is open to moving legislation that would protect the special counsel from interference from the white house. he says that chuck grassley told me earlier today, that he would be open to moving it if two separate competing bills can be reck fionciled to get rid of th slight differences and how each of these measures could deal with firing and possibly firing of a special counsel. now one of the members who's pushing this legislation is cory book booker, a new jersey democrat. he's been trying, he said in the wake of these reports of the athe tempted firing of robert mueller, he's been on the phone, trying to get new momentum behind this push and he believes perhaps some minds can be change
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in the light of these new reports. now when i spoke to him today, he raised serious concerns of what he sees as quote authoritarian tactics and raised a specter of impeachment. >> i think there was a very pragmatic reason to put forward legislation to try to check the president's power and authoritarian tendencies to order the removal of the special counsel. but what went from a pragmatic idea now i believe is a moral imperative. we have a president time and time again is showing his inclination towards authoritarian tendency. >> do you think it's too early to be talking about impeachment? >> talking about itmpeachment i one thing and finding the facts is something happening now. a search for facts and evidence by the special prosecutor. if you look at what is going on in terms of just the objective fact pattern, whether it's the firing of mueller, the people in
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and around his senior circle that have met with russians, agents who have been indicted for various behaviors, clearly, there's smoke around the sub tans that would support impeachment. >> now wolf, to get this bipartisan bill moving, he's going to need support from the republican leadership, particularly in the senate. so far, mitch mcconnell, the senate majority leader has not shown much interest in taking this up, but if there are more suggestions by the president to get rid of bob mueller presumably the dynamics on capitol hill could change and chuck grassley for his part did issue a bit of a warning to the president. to let bob mueller to continue to do his work. let the special counsel continue to investigation. when i asked grassley whether he would be okay with the firing of bob mueller, he said, quote, heavens no. a sign, wolf, of the pushback the president would receive if he got rid of bob mueller. while there's conservatives who want mueller to go, a lot of republican senators want him to
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stay and finish the job, wolf. >> thanks very much. up on capitol hill. president trump by the way, he's due back here in the united states this hour after the news of his attempt to fire robert mueller overshadowed his trip to davos switzerland. let's go to jim acosta. he's in davo srs for us. the president's trying to brush aside the story, but it was front and center at the economic summit there. >> that's right, wolf. here in davos, president trump ripped into the reports that he's trying to fire robert mueller. that he tried to do ta that as last year as fake news. that of course is not a flat out denial. when we tried to catch up with three top cabinet officials, they could not get away from our cameras fast enough. president trump departed switzerland strutting his stuff after hobnobbing at the world economic forum in davos, but he returns to washington under a cloud with questions that he tried to fire robert mueller. >> fake news, folks.
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fake news. typical "new york times" fake stories. >> the president brushed off the stories as did top members of the president's cabinet who blew past our cameras faster than the swiss ski team. are you concern that had the president tried to fire mueller? >> i know nothing about that. >> how long the mueller news is going to affect this trip, sir? [ inaudible ] are you concerned about how the mueller news is going to affect this conference here, sir? president continue d his atabs n the press in davos grumbling he no longer receives the favorable coverage. >> as a business man, i was always treated really well by the press. and it wasn't until i became a politician that i realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be. as the cameras start going off in the back. >> despite that cry of fake news, the president remarked without any evidence that there would have been a stock market
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crash had hillary clinton been elected. >> had the opposing party to me won, some of whom you backed, some of the people in the room, instead of being up almost 50%, the stock market is up since my election almost 50%. rather than that, i believe the stock market from that level, the initial level, would have been down close to 50%. >> president came to davos to take credit for the booming american economy, calling on companies across the world to move to the u.s. >> america is the place to do business. so come to america where you can innovate, create and build. >> but that welcoming tone came with a vow to start controlling the number of immigrants entering the u.s. based on new criter criteria. >> we must replace our current system of extended family chain migration with a merit based system of admissions that selects new arrivals based on their able ility to contribute our economy.
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to support themselves financially and to strengthen our country. >> dream act now! dream act now! >> the president also warned democrats to accept a white house deal to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the u.s. as children known as the dreamers from deportation. mr. trump tweeted chuck schumer took such a beating over the government shutdown that he's unable to act on immigration, but there were reminders that the president's own behavior has also had an impact. [ inaudible ] sitting with the president of rwanda, mr. trump was asked about his comments about africa and he was pressed on his retweeting of antimuslim videos from a far right group in britain. >> if you're telling me that the horrible racist people, i would certainly apologize if you'd like me to do that. i know nothing about that. >> now the president should not have much down time once he gets back to washington.
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within the hour, he has a a state of the union speech to work on and immigration policy to roll out that's taking heat from both sides, not to mention the prospect of another government shutdown within the next couple of weeks. of course there's a story that always seems to come back at the wrong time. the russia investigation. the president might have wished he had stayed in switzerland longer. >> jim, thank you very much. joining us now, congressman reuben guyago. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> how strong is the case for obstruction of justice? >> at this point b , if everyth we're hearing is true and mueller finds that, i think that is obstruction of news justice and ground for impeachment. that is something we have to take up as congress, but everything is pointing in that direction. more importantly though, i think what we really need in the meantime is our leadership as in speaker ryan and mitch mcconnell to show some spine. i know this is very difficult for them to do that. and tell the president that is
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not acceptcceptable. it is not acceptable for him to try to obstruct this type of investigation and stop or fire mueller. >> what does it tell you, congressman, that so many in the white house publicly deny that president trump ever considered the firing of robert mueller? >> well, what it tells me is that there are people within the white house more importantly that have heard him discuss this. or he is thinking of doing this and they are trying to make sure that he doesn't take that step. and i know there are some people will say it just attempting to do it does not actually equal a crime. that's not true. if you attempt to rob a bank, you're still going to get charged with robbing a bank and i think what a lot of people that smart people that are in the white house are trying to do is pin in the president so he doesn't cross a line that he cannot cross. >> do you believe that this will all push republicans, i know a lot of democrats are on board, but push republicans to support legislation prektding the
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special counsel? >> no, i think the only thing that's going to actually push these republicans to protect the essential counsel is going to be you know, voters, citizens, calling their offices. i encourage them to do it. because right now, you don't see any leadership from speaker ryan. as a matter of fact, he is only backing up attempts by members of congress to not just obstruct the veinvestigation, but to als just make it look like it is a partisan investigation. you have congressman nunez in the intel community leaking memos that are only spreading conspiracies and diminishing the importance of this investigation, all on purpose. so i haven't seen anything that makes me hopeful. it would be hopeful if speaker ryan acted like a true leader and stood up for the rule of law, but i'm not going to hold my breath. >> is mueller safe in your opinion? >> i don't believe mueller is safe as long as speaker ryan is not taking responsibility and showing leadership. we as the democratic caucus,
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want to see this investigation go through. we want to get to the bottom of what happened and how to prevent it in the future and punish those that were responsible for this, but i'm not sure speaker ryan wants to do that. he hasn't shown the where with all to do it. he has not shown the leadership to actually reign in the intel community. and i'm hoping now that he actually sees that it's important to do that. because really trks his reputation on the line. many years from now when he finally steps down, taking whatever job he ends up taking, his leg acy is going to be eithr the one that stood up for the rule of law and stopped this foreign attack on our elections by the russians including with collusion with the presidency. or he's going to be come police it in what occurred. >> do you believe rod rosen dlstein is safe in his role? >> again, i don't think anyone is safe in their role. because right now, congress is is not doing its duties in terms
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of being the check on an overbearing and overreaching executi executive. until mitch mcconnell and speaker ryan show leadership, show at least some level of willingness to stand up to the president, almost all of them are in danger of having either being fired or the investigation being so dlut iluted that it enp being useless and not getting to the bottom of the truth. >> do you have faith in the white house counsel? >> no, i don't. the only faith that i have is that what our forefathers thought. they thought if we ever had a executive branch that with was you know, overstepping its boundaries, you know, doing things that were either illegal such as obstruction of justice, there would be a check on it for the ledge gislative branch. the house of representivities and the senate. right now, again, we don't have that.
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the only faith i have the faith of the american people that i think would rise up and try to push back if they tried to get rid of mueller or anybody involved with the mueller investigation. but right now, it really is ownous is on speaker ryan. he needs to show he has some courage and stand up to the president for the first time i'd say since the president got sworn in. >> congressman, thanks so much for joining us. >> it's my pleasure. thank you. zblmpkts just just ahead, if robert mueller, would cross a red line, but would it be legal? i'll ask cnn's senior legal analyst, a former u.s. attorney. why create something this extravagant? or make a back seat that feels nothing like a back seat? why give it every feature you could want, along with a few you didn't know you needed? it's simple. you can build a car, or you can build a cadillac. come in now for this exceptional offer on the cadillac ct6. get this low-mileage lease
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today is your day. crush it. angie's boom chicka pop whole grain popcorn. boom! lawmakers sounding the alarm as sources confirm president trump tried to fire robert mueller last june backing down only when the top white house lawyer refused to carry out his order. joining us now, preet bharara, who was fired by president trump from his job asst attorney in new york. preet, thanks for joining us. how strong st the case for b obstruction of justice? >> we don't know all the facts or details. what all the witnesses have said, but i'll say based on the revelations over the last 24 to 36 hours, it hasn't gotten weaker because the issues relating to what's in his mind and how much he cared to putting an end to the russia investigation is is answered a little bit more now this we know
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and sundounds like there's a consensus, that president trump wanted mueller to be gone. there's really only one reason he wanted him to be gone and that's to end the russia investigation. on top of having fired jim comey and other thing that have been reported, it doesn't make the case weaker. >> many of the people around president trump actually lying about this. about whether or not the president wanted to fire mueller. why is this important? >> lying is always bad generally speaking, but also in legal cases. you know, when you're trying to prove something that is required to be proven by law, particularly in something like obstruction, you have to show it was in someone's mind and to prove what's in someone's mind since we don't have ways to figure out what's going on in someone's mind thu science, you look atz other indications. one of those that pros prosecutors use every day is whether or not they trooed to cover it up.
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one is it seems like when the president of the united states decided he wanted to get rid of bob muell mueller, some freaked about it. that shows it was probably both a politically bad idea, but also bad for him as far as legal exposure goes. then when he and others go about lying about it, cnn points eight or nine different occasions that the firing had never been discussed. the question you have to ask yourself and that people might have to ask themselves why lie if it was appropriate and it was just sort of a policy difference. often the reason people lie is because they knew that not only looked bad, but was potentially coming up close to the line of something illegal. >> legally though, the president has the authority to fire mueller, so explain why his removal would create such a a potentially illegal fire storm. >> i think there would be three
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kinds of fire storms. i think the president would invite for himself triple migraine if you will. first, he'd have a, the legal problem b as we discussed. there would be evidence that what was in his mind was another example of trying to stop the russia investigation on top of firing jim comey and saying other things he said. separate from that, you would have i think a congressional headache. it's been reported on this program senator grassley, when asked if mueller should be let go, said heavens now. there's a lot of talk on the democratic side and republican side that bob mueller is fired for any reason at all, that they'll react. they'll retaliate in some way through legislation. they might pass a different statute. might product, they could reinstate bob mueller, so you have that problem then you have the sort of separate generalized political problem where people might start to think who otherwise support the president,
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that he's you know, it's a bridge too far. the second problem and the third problem with related to each other because ultimately, i don't mean to jump the gun, but ultimately, if there's a shift in power in congress and there's a move, not saying it's going happen, but there is a move towards impeachment, the very same people in congress who are having a negative reaction to this and saying there's a bright line or red line as far as the fire iing of bob mueller goes, they're going to be the ones considering later on whether or not the president abuse d his power and that's sort of a political standard as much as it is a legal standard. so to do a thipg lithing like ts after people told you not to do it in particular, your own white house counsel and after having lie d about it and doing it any way in the face f all sorts of people saying don't do it, i think creates a big deal and a fire storm, which is the word ewe use you used. >> last june when he wanted to fire mueller, the president wanteded the point to three potential conflicts of interest
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to create the opportunity to fire the special counsel. according to the "new york times," those were a dispute over fees at a trump golf club leading, robert mueller that has private citizen to resign his membership at the golf club in firm that represented jared kushner and the president's interview of mueller for the role of fbi director the day before. how strong of an argument with those three points? >> well so going to put it this way. it has been a year of ironnys and this sort of tops them all in my book. the president is many things. what he is not is a legal expert on the issue of conflicts of interest. i think a lot of people will tell you on both side of al that this president is personally the most conflicts with respect to his businessin holds and everything else in history. this is a president who himself, not with standing arguments that "the new york times" reports he
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was making about conflicts of interest mueller might have, on the other hand thought his own attorney general, jeff sessions, who was a part of his campaign, who was giving conflicting testimony is not conflicted and should not have recused himself. the bottom line, the way these issues are worked out in my office and every office in the country is by career professional ethics experts whose advise is given to keep people out of trouble and to make sure the public has confidence in decisions being made. when my ethics experts said you want to think about recusing yourself because of some con flik flikt, i did so. that's the reason jeff sessions recused hymn and it's my understanding based on reporting from may 23rd of last year, scott schools, a career professional at the department, made a determination that robert mueller was permitted to continue with the russia investigation not with standing some of conflicts the president
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has been raising. so to me, it's very odd you have all these ethics experts saying it was okay and the president then on his own appears to be conjuring up conflicts that he think bar mueller from continuing in his job while at the same time, ignoring much more serious conflicts of interest because he wanted somebody who he thought owed him something and wanted to keep his job. namely jeff sessions. to stay in charge. it's all very peculiar to me. >> preet bharara, thanks for joining us. >> thanks. just ahead, the it was a bombshell, but robert mueller already knew about the president's effort to have him fired. will that strength ben the case for obstruction of justice? and steve wynn faces multiple sexual misconduct allegations. should republican candidates now return his donations?
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we're following the angry reaction over the bombshell news that president trump ordered the firing of robert mueller back in june. only backed down when top white house lawyer pushed back. there's a lot of talk, a lot to talk about with our correspondents and analysts. special counsel, he apparently knew all about this effort by the president in june to fire him, which the president backed down once his white house
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counsel said i'll quit if you do that. how strong is the case right now for obstruction of justice? >> i think it strengthens the case. it's part of a prodder pattern of behavior. that the president was intended to b obstruct justice, but we have of course when the president went to james comey, asked him to drop the investigation to michael flynn. he then proceeded to fire james comey. he then dispatched don to urge jeff sessions not to recuse himself in the investigation. so it's not just one incident in isolati isolation. a bro it's a broader pattern. it might strengthen calls on capitol hill to reign in the president's authority to remove the special counsel. >> see if that legislation gets off the ground. got to pass the senate, the house and sign into law. that's a tough challenge. >> when it was reported last june that there was some
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consideration that the president was given to firing mueller, they all flatly denieded it. so what do you make of that? >> well, that's right and his aides may not have known about it. sean spicer, sarah sanders, kellyanne conway, there are s l several people bedenying that i was ever on the table for the president, but the most striking thing is the comment from the president himself who said he never considered it. he read that the media had reported he was considering it, but had never been on the table. it's very black and white here, wolf. the president lied elied. he had considered fire iing him. so president lied about what he was going to do with the special counsel. no if, ands or buts about this here. >> that's terrible for tmateria special counsel to use. according to the tlo"new york times," the president also
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considered firing the number two at the justice department, rod rosenstein. why would that raise flags? >> because with the recusal of jeff sessions from the investigation, it is rod rosenstein who was overseeing the special counsel and would be the person who would be required to execute an order to dismiss him and thus moving him out of the way would clear the way the put in someone who would be more amenable. i would just want to underscore that in the end, this is more likely to end as a political than a legal question about obstruction of justice. we have justice department memos from the nixon and clinton administration each time. now maybe this obviously there was some self-interest there. on the part of the justice department it's clear robert mueller could challenge that, but it's more like they that even if he concludes that the president has tried to obstruction justice, he turns this over to congress and asks
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them to act upon the information that he has dropped and in many way, that could, we could be heading toward a situation where a republican congress by all indications has been very, very reluctant to exert any kind of oversight on these issues. in fact, are are moving to defend the president, where if the special counsel reaches that conclusion, he could be setting it up as the central issue in the 2018 congressional elections. >> and we'll see what happens on that front, but you make an excellent point. samantha is with us as well. sam, you think his threat to resign could stop the president from firing mueller has basically ended the possibility that mueller will be gone? >> yonk we know. i think we've seen a t pattern of president trump and members of the administration repeatedly attack the credibility of the investigation in an effort to i think distract from the fbi and special counsel from being able to do their work. we need to think about how this is playing globally. all these threads play into
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putin's hands. the intelligence community has agreed that the russian's goal is to undermine faith in our democracy. our legal system is a key pillar of that and almost every day now, we have stories about the administration trying to denigrate the fbi. >> that was one of the conclusions of the u.s. intelligence community and law enforcement community that the russian goal in interfering in the election. the first to embarrass the united states and to create division. >> the story they should be talking about is what do they do about the next election. whether they're guilty, whether they testified, what the president did wrong. can you tell me how many conversations we've seen on cnn
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where they talk about protecting the election? the boring stuff. what is the department of homeland security doing? they talk ed about doing bob mueller's job. i'm investigating an individual. z >> have you seen any evidence that the president of the united states has directed those communities to tell the russians to stop it and take direct action? >> i haven't and let's be clear on this. that is not just the individual agencies. the reason this is important, he's got to have the national security adviser coordinate with cia, fbi, homeland security and the pentagon. that's correct. you guys collectively are going after the russians. >> have you seen evidence that's happen something. >> i haven't, but we have real policy issues that we need to address. there are nor sanctimore sancti implemented today, but russia is filling in where the united states used to lead. syria is a perfect example. hr mcmaster should be coordinating with all these intel agencies reporting to the
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president and aur ioffering advice on how to work with russia. >> i know he wants in. go ahead. >> from the outside, the president really has set the opposite down to fill highlights of russian interference in future elections. he views that as acknowledging interference in 2016. and too many, and when we started off the presidency, you had republicans in congress taking a more independent tone and maybe acknowledging that threat more than they are today. instead, you see more of the house republicans in particular kind of rallying around the president by raising all of these very spurious accusations against the fbi. against the cia, this deep state conspiracy and so forth and they, too seemingly have bought into this notion that preparing ourselves against this genuine
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national security threat is somehow casting doubting on the legitimacy of president trump who they increasingly have lashed themselves to the mast of the ship. >> everybody stand by. there's much more we need to assess. we'll be right back. ut i had age-related macular degeneration, amd, i wanted to fight back. my doctor and i came up with a plan. it includes preservision. only preservision areds 2 has the exact nutrient formula recommended by the national eye institute to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd backed by 15 years of clinical studies. that's why i fight. because it's my vision. preservision. that's why i fight. oh thanks. say, yeah, i took your advice and had geico help with renters insurance- it was really easy. easy. that'd be nice. phone: for help with chairs, say "chair." phone: for help with bookcases, say "bookcase." bookcase. i thought this was the dresser?
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the president of the united states just b about a minute or so ago seen here, you see the
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video, washingtoning down the stairs. air force one has just landed in maryland right outside washington d.c. the president return iing from davos, switzerland. spent a couple of days there. now he's got a lot going on getting ready for his state of the union address before joint session of congress tuesday night. special coverage starting here in "the situation room." noyou know, let me bring in kaitlyn. you coffer vered him when he wa candidate. i want to play a series of clips from his top aides insisting that this whole notion of the president considering firing robert mueller, the special counsel, simply never happened. >> well, the president has the right to. he has no intention to do so. >> bottom line, kellyanne, is the president commit to not firing robert mueller? >> the president has not even discussed that. >> are you considering firing robert mueller?
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>> no. not at all. >> is there any chance at all that the president will fire robert mueller? >> no, you know, i saw a couple of people talking about this this morning and the answer to that is no. >> we have no intentions of firing bob mueller. we're continuing to work closely and cooperate with him. >> is the president going to continue to cooperate? >> there's no way he's going fire him. >> there's no conversation about that whatsoever in the white house. >> you know, you covered this team. it's sort of awkward now that we know that back in june, the president went to his jeef counsel over there at the white house and told him i was i'm going to go ahead and fire him. >> that's right, not only did the president discuss this, the only reason he backtracked was because the whout counsel threatened to quit and it's this running story that the president
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often contradicts his own spokesm spokesman. white house officials, those who aren't the face of the white house, but every white house official, the president consistently contradicts them. we see that time and time again. but here, it's not just the president contradicting his own spokesman. he's contradicting himself. it's a lie. he's saying he never considered it. never gave it any thought, but we know the president did give it thought. so a lot of the american people are like whey should i care that the president considered firing the special counsel? here's a reason. the president is not only lying to reporters, he's lying to the american people when he says i wasn't considering firing him when in fact, he was. >> very important point indeed. there's a "wall street journal" report that's just been posted and i want to share it with you and our viewers right now. i'll read the lead. president donald trump's legal team has been studying a 1990s federal court ruling that could be the basis for delaying or limits or avoiding an interview
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with robert mueller. this according to people familiar with the matter. they're refer tog a 1997 court case that presidents and their closest advisers enjoy protections against having to disclose information about their decision making process or official actions. the court ruled the prosecutor is hoping to overcome arguments of executive and presidential>> this report is they are looking at this court ruling, even though the president a few days ago, just before leaving washington said looking forward to answering questions from robert mueller in the next two or three weeks subject to attorneys letting him do so. >> well, look, as i said before, i think ultimately the questions of the president's role are more likely decided in the political arena than the legal unless the special counsel wants to challenge the previous determination that
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determinations that a sitting president cannot be indicted even star did that through clinton. and through a political action like this that a legal action has to be understood. after bill clinton sat for a deposition during the ken star deposition, a decision by the white house not to talk to the special counsel i think would be enormously risky. 60% of the public in polling believe the investigation is fair. and i think if the president chooses not to participate in an interview, it will reenforce the conclusion among many voters that he has something to hide. and, also, i think, wolf, sort of recenter what i believe is going to be the central question in the 2018 election, which is whether voters feel that the republican congress is providing a sufficient amount of check and ov oversight on president trump. and all the choices this president makes whether this one or not sitting for an interview
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turn back to that question of whether the congress is doing anything to hold him accountable and ensure the dem krotic and legal processes are being defended. >> phil, what do you think of the wall street journal report that the lawyers for the president are looking for an excuse to avoid his appearing before this special counsel? >> heck, yeah, i would do the same thing. this is a buy narry choice. i would take the second choice. i'll tell you one. talking about obstruction with mueller. he interviewed the staff. maybe he heard something after the investigation and mcgahn said yeah he told me that. president satisfy he never said t legal jeopardy. >> we have a lot more to discuss. we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. from scanda,
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we are back with our analysts and new attempts to beat back rumors surrounding the president. i want to remind our view ersz, michael wolff the author of this book, fire and fury, he said in television interview he believes the president is currently having an affair. and if you read closely the last few pages of the book who it might be. and it may be the u.s.
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ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley. she was so angry. listen to her reaction. >> it is absolutely not true. it is highly offensive. and it's disgusting. at every point in my life, i've noticed that if you speak your mind and you are strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that. and the way they deal with it is to try anthro arrows. lies or not to diminish you. >> obviously she is understandably very angry. >> and she has every reason to be. all too often we see women in powerful positions have to beat back the notion they slept their way to the top. this is something she fought back with as a candidate. and under scores around me too and treatment of women so many
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built in double standards the way we treat men and women in prominent positions. >> i want you to weigh in as well, samantha. >> this is ita ridiculous story. i wish we didn't have air time on this. and policy issues like russia. this is ground less. >> this based on a flimsy account, kaitlan, you know, you've covered as i say the white house. there is nothing there, but all of a sudden the united states ambassador to the united nations has to make -- we only played a little portion of this extensive series of very angry comments that she delivered. >> yeah, that's exactly right. nikki haley actually drew a lot of attention to this allegation when she denied it. but i thought it was important for her to deny it. and also did not see michael wolff had enough evidence of this allegation to include it out right in his book. instead he alluded to it in the book and on air but wouldn't say
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it out right. but clearly stunning accusation to make to the ambassador to the united nations having a romantic a fair with the president of the united states. and he clearly didn't have the evidence to back it up. and then later on in his book he insinuates something about the communications director hope hicks as well which is a strange thing for michael wolff to assume that the two most powerful women in this administration have somehow slept their way to the top. >> ron, go ahead. >> i was going to say, it's reminder to be cautious with lt source of the information, that, you know, where all of this started. and i would say about nikki haley, in particular, i thought her response was firm, but controlled. and reminder of why she could be a very formidable political figure going forward in the way she has dealt with this and everything else. she has been of the trump administration and no hint of disloyalty yet not fully seen as part of it or viewed of going in that direction by the forces in the republican party that are much less sympathetic to trump.
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she is someone that could have an important future for the future. >> south carolina governor, current ambassador to the united nations. her stock has gone up, up, up. thanks for watching. that's it for me wolf blitzer in "the situation room" "the situation room". erin burnett start right now. up front next, president trump about to return to the white house in facing the serious questions of his presidency. did the president obstruct justice? plus who is white house counsel don mcgahn why does he seem to be at the center of a lot of controversy? >> and billy graham daughter speaking out. let's go outfront. >> good evening i'm jim sciutto in for erin burnett

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